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I was splitting a round of firewood. In the wormholed center, I realized there was living a roughly 6-foot black and white striped snake. Luckily it didn’t have the head of Michael Keaton. This is what happens when you pass out watching Romancing the Stone. I hadn’t even thought of that flick in so many years, but man: romance novelists, the jungles ofColombia, Kathleen Turner and an almost-sexy Michael Douglas. Toothsome. Per usual drunken dreaming, they were also fraught with visions of ice-cold glasses of water.

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I woke up on Garrett’s couch, adrift in a crumby sea of Cheetos, Teddy Bear cookies, rum and coke and pizza crusts with a cat curled on my crotchal region and a Level 7 hangover. It was a weird night – a bizarre day in general. The local newspaper editor had requested a meeting to discuss a story about a peer mentor abstinence program. He needed an intrepid and chaste journa-lass to infiltrate the group and expose the pseudo-puritan dirtbag dealings from the inside out. Which is to say he had no ladies on staff to talk to mid/high school girls about S-E-X. Who better than your pure-as-the-driven-snow protagonist? And he started the dealings at 15¢ a word – not rockstar pricing but much better than the two-month deficit I had been pushing.

Giddy celebratory mentality in tact, I headed to the Gem State bar. I can count on one mill-mangled hand my nightlife forays in this quaint/gritty logging village of my youth. But it was Friday night, my pops suggested catching a brewsef and really, has there ever been a documented instance in which I turned down free spirits? No.

Entering a local bar is a kind of like time transporting to Ye Olde West. When the doors stop swinging and your eyes adjust to the light, you find yourself scrutinized by squinted eyes in craggy faces atop hunched torsos on bar stools. Your defiantly cosmopolitan lack of flannel or suspenders inspires distrust. Pops showed up (in full Carhartt coverall regalia) with beardy neighbor and with my much older (21 years to be exact) brother in his tye-dye headkerchief. I had never spent a good bar evening with any of them.

Moments later and to my amused disbelief, my kinfolk posse had clustered at a newspaper-covered table. Pocket knives always at the ready, they were helping an old local clean his daily ice fishing catch – a bucketful of perch. Pops introduced me, and the man wiped the outer layer of slime on the papers and gave me a firm yet fishy handshake. I, of course, was thoroughly sicked out. I don’t even get fish on my hands working at the cannery, but I couldn’t squeal off to the bathroom all weiner-like, so I just grimace smiled, biding time until my smooth exit and subsequent slime vanquishing.

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guts

Drinks flowed, homeslice Garrett showed and then karaoke happened. No strangers to the game, G-Rot and I have logged some severe practice hours on the Playstation. The crowd was pleased and dancy (Pops even brought it on by way of his signature cowboy ass shimmy). Having won the trust of the people and rocketed to celebrity status, groupies were to be expected. Interestingly they manifested in the unexpected form of a chum’s kid brother…who is now of legal drinking age. The same kid who annoyed us during our Jonathan Brandis sleep over fan meetings. He showed me a cell picture of his ass, fucking brutally bruised by belt-wielding strippers on his 21 run. This picture looked like it came out of a flog-based judicial system. He and his little homies were headed back stripclubward and invited me along – comically enough to the joint my chum/his sister once called employer. I politely declined.

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The pinnacle of the evening was supposed to be a viewing of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Hercules Unchained. In a heartbreaking turn of our tragic comedy, however, the much-hyped Netflix envelope revealed a soul-crushing cracked disc. End of night. We did what any one of you would have when faced with such grave disappointment. We wept, gnashed our teeth and searched for solace in pizza, Cheetos and Michael Douglas. Sweet dreams.

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